Strong and Loud or Quiet and Weak, Googles Robot Grandkids Fail to Impress the Marines
January 15, 2016
The article titled Why the Marines Don’t Want Google’s Robot Soldiers in Combat on Fortune discusses the downside of the Google-owned company Boston Dynamics’ robots. You might guess, moral concerns, or more realistically, funding. But you would be wrong, since DARPA already shelled out over $30 million for the four-legged battle bots. Instead, the issue is that a single robot, which looks like a huge insect wearing a helmet and knee and elbow pads, emits a noise akin to a motorcycle revving, or a jackhammer drilling, for small movements. The article explains,
“Anyone who’s seen Boston Dynamics’ four-legged robots in action typically is wowed by their speed, strength, and agility, but also note how loud they are. They sound like chainsaws on steroids. And that decibel level is apparently a problem for potential customers, namely the U.S. military.
For Marines who took the robot out for a spin, that noise is apparently a deal breaker. “They took it as it was: a loud robot that’s going to give away their position.”
The reason for all this hullaballoo on the part of the robot is its gas engine, intended for increased robustness. The military was looking for a useful helpmate capable of carrying heavy loads of up to 400 lbs. There has been some back and forth between military representatives and Boston Dynamics, but the current state of affairs seems to be a quieter, and weaker, robot. Not ideal.
Chelsea Kerwin, January 15, 2016